Frankie & Josh: The Faces of Love

The Bears' Den

by K G Follett

Frankie & Josh - KG Follett - The Bears' Den
Part of the The Bears' Den series:
Editions:Paperback: $ 8.99
ISBN: 978-1973339632
Pages: 193

Frankie Price and Josh Howard had been friends literally since birth. Born four months apart to parents who had been close friends since college, the boys’ friendship bonds grew strong over the years. As they matured during high school, those bonds of friendship took on a different, much stronger meaning for the boys – a meaning that would not sit well with their fundamentalist “Christian” families. When their parents’ efforts to “change” the boys fail, Frankie and Josh suddenly find themselves all alone against the world at sixteen. Will their love for on another be enough to carry them through the challenges they are about to face?

We first met Frankie and Josh in the third book of K G Follett’s trilogy, A Different Kind of Family: Love Matters. This is the story of how they came to that fateful meeting with The Bears’ Den Family and how their lives played out afterwards. While this is a free-standing story, you may want to check out the three books of A Different Kind of Family: The Trilogy, to see how “The Bears’ Den Bed & Breakfast” came to be.

This book is a tribute to to very dear friends of the author who were lost to HIV/AIDS. Theirs, too, was a beautiful love story that was, unfortunately, cut way too short. While not a retelling of their actual story, this book is an attempt to give them the HEA ending they were not able to experience in real life. It's also a look into the plight of and a tribute to the many rejected and troubled LGBTQ+ youth in today's society. Hopefully it will help shed some light on what can be done to help them.

Published:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: MM
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Varies During Story
Protagonist 2 Age: Varies During Story
Tropes: Coming of Age, Coming Out / Closeted, Death of Parent, Families/Raising Kids, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Find Love and Come Out, First Time, Forbidden Love, Friends to Lovers, Geek and Jock, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Rescue
Word Count: 34460
Setting: Rockford, Illinois
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

Frankie Price and Josh Howard had known each other since they were infants.  Their parents were best friends from college.  After college, Frank Price, Sr., joined the US Navy and spent twenty years there before retiring and moving back to Rockford, where he was reunited with and married his high school sweetheart, Ann Taylor.  A year later they became the proud parents of their only child, Frank, Jr. or “Frankie”.

In the meantime, Jack and Sharon Howard started careers and a family of their own with three daughters by the time Frank Price returned to Rockford.  About six months after his return, Ann Price announced she was expecting.  A few months later, Sharon Howard found out she was as well.  Four months after Frankie Price arrived on the scene, Joshua Howard came into the world.

READ MORE

The Howards had been heavily involved in one of the more conservative Baptist churches in the Rockford area, and invited the Prices to join them there.  As a result of this, both boys were raised in an atmosphere that was less than tolerant of any viewpoints or lifestyles that did not strictly conform to the doctrine of that church.  While this was not much of an issue for the boys during their pre-adolescent years, things would start to change as they entered puberty.

Although he was the bolder and more outgoing of the two boys (a fact that was accentuated by his easy, dimpled smile, dark brown eyes , expressive brow, and wavy dark hair), Frankie also felt the most pressure to conform as he matured.  Despite his slight, five-foot-five-inch frame, he felt he needed to please his father’s ex-military machismo, which he did by joining the baseball team in school (the only sport he really liked), and by starting to date girls as early as Junior High.

Josh, on the other hand, was more quiet and shy, and tended to stick to his studies.  He was also slender, but a few inches taller than Frankie, with curly brown hair and bright blue eyes set in a handsome face that gave him an innocent, yet inquisitive look.  The school activities he did participate in tended to be more nerdish or intellectual, like the Chess Club and Yearbook Staff.  He rarely dated, and when he did, it was usually to go out with Frankie on double-dates.

As they progressed through high school, their friendship deepened as they developed an unspoken understanding of each other’s feelings and emotions.  While this was usually comforting for Frankie and Josh, it sometimes made their interactions with others a bit awkward.  Eventually it would change their lives completely in ways they could never imagine.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

K G (Ken) Follett has lived in Rockford, Illinois for over thirty years.  Born in the Chicago area, he moved to Rockford after growing up in the suburbs and exurbs.  He graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1980, with a BS degree in business/marketing, and worked in the banking and marketing fields for over fifteen years.  After his move to “the Forest City”, he obtained his ADN from Rock Valley College in 1997, and began working as a Registered Nurse.  He now lives with and is happily married to his partner of nearly twenty years, Brent Cabrera.

Follett started writing the short story about a gay man named Brad Kelly the mid-1990s as an “escape” during a difficult time in his life.  (He had been told in school that he had a good “conversational” writing style, but never attempted anything beyond his school assignments.)  During the Clinton years, with the AIDS crisis still out of control, the term “family” was being hijacked by various socio-political groups to be used to “morally” bash LGBTQ and other alternative family structures.  Follett felt compelled to write something positive about being LGBTQ in modern “middle” America, and his original short story began to grow.  Hence the concept of A Different Kind of Family as a novel was born.

However, as the new millennium dawned, Follett put the story aside due to positive changes in his life.  The story lay forgotten for nearly two decades, until he rediscovered the unfinished manuscript in a file cabinet in his basement in early 2017.  Inspired by the ever-increasing numbers of gay romance novels he had been reading, and by numerous gay feature and short films he had watched on the internet, Follett decided to revisit Brad Kelly’s life in earnest.  He revamped his original concept and completed the book, publishing it that September.

Shortly thereafter, he realized he had grown attached to a number of peripheral characters in the novel, and he launched The Bears’ Den series of books devoted to them (Frankie & Josh:  The Faces of Love, Jacob Makes Three, and Transformations).  After publishing the third The Bear’s Den book in the spring of 2018, Follett revisited his original story.  He found that his characters still had more to tell about themselves.  Hence, A Different Kind of Family: The Trilogy was born, delving more deeply into the lives of Brad and his “family”.  He split the original novel in to three free-standing books, each covering a different “era” of Brad Kelly’s life.

More recently, Follett has been spreading his literary wings, with an historical fiction novel reviewing the early AIDS crisis of the 1980s and its effects on those who lived through it and those who are long-term survivors (Never Too Late).  His most recent publication was his first exploration of the Science Fiction genre with a gay twist.  It explores artificial intelligence and human emotions as well as time travel (Ganymede:  Time for Love).  His current project, Hello Again, is a gay romance novel with a bit of a paranormal twist.

In his books the author’s attempts to reclaim the terms “family” and “love” to be used legitimately for any kind of family structure in today’s society.  He also hopes to shed light on how LGBTQ life has improved over the past five decades, what challenges the LGBTQ community still faces, and what could be lost if we do not remain vigilant in these tumultuous times.


Leave a Comment